At a young age, Chris Hastings learned that food was not to be wasted. He and his cousins used to catch small, brown, creek shrimp for his mother to use in a traditional Lowcountry boil to serve at dinnertime.
Leftover boiled shrimp were peeled and placed in a quick, pickle brine and refrigerated overnight. In the morning, the pickled shrimp were served for breakfast over warm grits along with bacon and eggs. That was the original shrimp and grits.
At the Hot and Hot Fish Club, Chris serves shrimp and grits every night, though this version is different from the one he ate as a child. Still, the main elements remain: shrimp, grits, and an acidic sauce.
In this recipe, verjus gives the shrimp sauce an extra zing. Verjus is an acidic, tart liquid made from unripe grapes and can sometimes be found at specialty food stores. You can also substitute cider vinegar for the verjus with similar results.
Hot and Hot Creamy Shrimp and Grits with Country Ham
- 1 pound medium shrimp (25 to 30 count), peeled and deveined
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup equal parts finely diced carrots, celery, and onions (mirepoix)
- 1/2 cup blond verjus or cider vinegar
- 1 cup seeded and finely diced tomatoes
- 3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 2 cups McEwen & Sons Crimson Stone-Ground Grits (recipe follows)
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced country ham, julienned
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, for garnish
- Season the shrimp with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.
- Melt 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of the butter in a wok (you may use a large sauté pan) over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and thyme and sauté for 1 minute, being careful not to let the shallots brown.
- Add the diced carrots, celery, and onions and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the seasoned shrimp and cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are cooked halfway, about 2 minutes.
- While the shrimp are cooking, dice the remaining 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter and set aside. Deglaze the wok with the verjus and stir in the tomatoes.
- Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the tomatoes and shrimp are cooked through and the liquid has reduced by half.
- Reduce the heat to low and stir in the lemon juice. Add the diced butter, a little at a time, stirring until each portion is incorporated before adding more butter.
- Season the sauce with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parsley.
McEwen & Sons Crimson Stone-Ground Grits
Serves 6; makes about 3 cups
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup crimson stone-ground coarse grits from McEwen & Sons
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Melt the butter in a slow cooker (you may use a 4-quart saucepan) over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and thyme and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds, being careful not to burn the garlic.
- Add 2 cups of the chicken stock and the heavy cream and bring the mixture to a boil. Upon boiling, add the grits in a slow, steady stream while whisking constantly.
- Once the mixture returns to a simmer, reduce the heat to low. Cook the grits at a simmer, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes. (The grits will begin to thicken after about 10 minutes.)
- Once the grits begin to look dry, stir in the remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth and continue cooking the grits for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the grits are tender. Season with the salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Serve immediately.
Place 1/2 cup of the grits on 4 dinner plates and spoon equal amounts of the shrimp and sauce mixture over each portion of grits. Garnish each plate with 1 rounded tablespoon of country ham and 1/2 tablespoon of fresh, chopped chives. Serve immediately.